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Africa is a continent that is rich in natural resources and has abundant water bodies. Dams are a crucial aspect of the continent’s infrastructure, serving agricultural purposes, hydroelectric power generation, and water supply for urban centers.
A dam is a massive structure designed to impound or divert water. It is usually built across a river or stream and can be used to control floods or store water for irrigation and other purposes.
In this article, we will look at the top 10 largest dams in Africa, their history, size, structure volume, and where their water is coming from.
1. Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is the largest dam in Africa and the seventh-largest in the world. It is located on the Blue Nile in Ethiopia, and construction began in 2011. The dam’s reservoir has a storage capacity of 74 billion cubic meters and is expected to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity when completed. The project is set to cost over $5 billion and is expected to take several years to complete.
2. Aswan High Dam
The Aswan High Dam is located in Egypt, and it is the second-largest dam in Africa. It was completed in 1970 and stretches across the Nile River. The dam created Lake Nasser, the world’s largest artificial lake, with a storage capacity of 169 billion cubic meters. The dam generates 2,100 megawatts of electricity and is critical to Egypt’s agricultural industry.
3. Katse Dam
Katse Dam is located in Lesotho and is the third-largest dam in Africa with a capacity of 2.043 billion cubic meters. The dam’s water is sourced from the Malibamatso River in South Africa and Lesotho’s catchment area. The dam serves as the centerpiece of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, which aims to supply water to South Africa’s Gauteng Region.
4. Cahora Bassa Dam
Cahora Bassa Dam is located in Mozambique’s Tete Province on the Zambezi River and is the fourth-largest dam in Africa. It was completed in 1974 and has a storage capacity of 66 billion cubic meters. The dam’s primary purpose is to generate hydroelectricity, with a capacity of 2,075 megawatts. The electricity generated from Cahora Bassa Dam is vital to Mozambique’s economy, and the excess is exported to South Africa.
5. Merowe Dam
The Merowe Dam is located in Sudan on the River Nile, and it is the fifth-largest dam in Africa. The dam has a storage capacity of 12.5 billion cubic meters and generates 1,250 megawatts of electricity. The project cost over $2 billion and was completed in 2009 after several years of construction. The Merowe Dam has caused controversy due to its environmental impact on the Nile River and its surrounding communities.
6. Zongo Falls
The Zongo Falls Dam is located in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and it is the sixth-largest dam in Africa. The dam has a storage capacity of 3.6 billion cubic meters, and its primary purpose is to generate hydroelectricity. The dam’s construction has faced controversy, with concerns raised over its possible impact on the environment.
7. Kariba Dam
Kariba Dam is located on the Zambezi River between Zambia and Zimbabwe and is the seventh-largest dam in Africa. Its storage capacity is 180 billion cubic meters, and it generates 1,625 megawatts of electricity. The dam’s construction was completed in 1959, and it is critical to the economies of both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
8. Kossou Dam
Located in Côte d’Ivoire, the Kossou Dam is the eighth-largest dam in Africa with a storage capacity of 1.34 billion cubic meters. The dam was completed in 1973 and serves multiple purposes, including hydroelectric power generation, irrigation, and flood control.
9. Bui Dam
The Bui Dam is located in Ghana and is the ninth-largest dam in Africa. It was completed in 2013 and has a storage capacity of 400 million cubic meters. The dam generates 400 megawatts of electricity and is critical to Ghana’s energy sector.
10. Berg River Dam
Located in South Africa, the Berg River Dam is the tenth-largest dam in Africa with a storage capacity of 129 million cubic meters. The dam’s water is sourced from the Berg River, which is the Western Cape’s largest river. Its primary purpose is to supply water to the surrounding communities for irrigation and domestic use.
In conclusion, the construction of dams has played an essential role in Africa’s economic development, with their creation producing hydroelectric power, irrigation, and flood control. The continent’s numerous waterways offer an excellent opportunity for countries to tap into the resources available to increase the well-being of their citizens. The ten dams mentioned above are a testament to the potential they hold.